Catholic University law school Professor Mary Leary is the recipient of an award from Microsoft Research and the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit that will help to fund a new study, titled “The Role of Technology in Human Trafficking.” The research project will focus upon the technology that supports child sex trafficking, as well as the wide variety of state and federal judicial opinions over the last ten years in such cases.
The software giant accepted a proposal Leary sent in February to examine the problem of child sex trafficking from new angles. Her work will examine the use of technology in child sex trafficking cases as demonstrated in published judicial opinions. Leary’s work will also likely explore the acceptance of this digital evidence in courts and whether it differs between state and federal level cases. She hopes to also gather data concerning whether distinctions exist between appellate review of the evidence and trial level review of the evidence.
In its approval letter, Microsoft invited Leary to attend the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit in mid-July, intended to help grant recipients plan for the use of their funds.
She plans to begin research soon which will begin with an analysis of federal cases of child sex trafficking. Tabulation of the results will occur by late summer. An outline of preliminary results may be initially presented in August at the South Eastern Association of Law Schools annual conference where Professor Leary is expected to speak on a panel discussing digital evidence.
One of the country’s foremost experts on the worldwide scourge of child sexual trafficking, Leary has served as the head of delegation for the Holy See at the III World Congress Against the Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. She has also served as a member of several advisory boards and currently sits on the National Coalition for the Prevention of Child Sexual Exploitation.